Australian recording industry investigators raided an Internet service provider on Thursday suspected of having used high-speed file-swapping technology to allow the pirating of hundreds of thousands of songs and video clips, an industry official said.
The raid was believed to be the first on an Australian Internet company involving popular BitTorrent file sharing software.
The investigators raided the headquarters of Swiftel Communications in Perth, the capital of Western Australia state, Music Industry Piracy Investigations said. MIPI is part of the Australian Record Industry Association.
"These raids are a new and important development in our fight against Internet music piracy," MIPI General Manager Michael Speck said.
BitTorrent is a software program which allows the downloading of large files from multiple sources at the same time, thereby speeding up the transfer. Users connect directly to each other, but there is a central server which coordinates the transfers.
Speck accused Swiftel of using BitTorrent technology "to link infringers to music clips and sound recordings. We believe hundreds of thousands of downloads have been conducted during the last year in breach of copyright laws."
He said his investigators seized "digital evidence relating to Web pages and Internet transactions consisting of both illegal sound recordings and illegal video clips."
Swiftel Communications could not immediately be reached for comment.
The raids were conducted with rarely used search warrants known as Anton Piller orders which are used exclusively in civil proceedings. No police were involved, and the record industry sent its own investigators to carry out the search and seize evidence.
Last year, Speck's organization used Anton Piller orders to raid offices and homes in Sydney linked to the Kazaa file-sharing network. The recording industry is involved in an ongoing civil trial against Kazaa that is expected to wind up later this month.
Lawyers for the recording industry say Kazaa's owners are allowing the network's millions of users to illegally exchange billions of copyrighted music files each month.
Kazaa's owners say they are not responsible for the actions of people using their software.
Speck said Thursday that among music videos found traded on Swiftel were "Kids" by Robbie Williams and Kylie Minogue and "Sometime" by Britney Spears.
"The record industry will continue to take legal action to protect its copyright whether it's on the internet or elsewhere," Speck said. "We will continue to act against ISPs who we believe are set up as vehicles for piracy."